Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Poochy Update

By now you probably know that we've adopted the cutest little dog. We named her Sweet Olive, and in case you missed the news, you can read about the (very long) adoption process here. We've had her now for just about two weeks, but it feels like forever--in the best kind of way.

As I mentioned in my previous post about her, people really scare her. It took her foster parents months to get her to trust them, and it took us many weeks. I guess the natural (but unexpected) progression would be for her to start warming up to people in just a matter of days, which is exactly what's happened, to our great surprise.

A few days after adopting her, we took her over to my mother-in-law's house where she met three new people and one new dog. We had spent tons of time telling them that she was fearful of people and that she would probably ignore them or shut down. Well lo and behold, she walked right up to my sister-in-law, gave her a sniff, and wagged her tail. That sort of interest took us weeks to get out of her! I must say that for a moment, I felt a little sad that John and I hadn't been able to elicit that sort of reaction when we first met her, but then I realized that that's probably her how foster parents felt about us. Sweet Olive warmed up to us much more quickly than she had to them, but not because it was personal. Just because every time she's able to see that people can be nice--she learns to trust them a little faster.

Since we got her two weeks ago, she has basically transformed into a "normal" dog--one that's not afraid of every little thing. One huge, huge moment was when she decided to start using the stairs. I could never get her to go down the stairs or even walk by them. My strategy was to put her half way up the stairs, which would force her to go one way or another. One morning totally out of the blue she decided she'd be brave and walk down by herself! As you watch the video below... please remember that she was fearful of everything, so don't judge me for my over-the-moon excitement.

Luckily, since we got her after her puppy years, we haven't had to worry about training her. We'll enroll her in some sort of program so she can learn things like sit and stay, but as far as house training and crate training, we haven't had to think about it at all. 

There were a few things we did to get the house ready for her. One of the first ones was to go out and get this little cart from Ikea so we had a place to put all of her things. We set it right by the back door which is the most convenient spot since that's the door we use when we go out on walks. The cart houses all things Sweet Olive, like her harness, leash, treats, toys, etc. 

I was pretty worried about her going up and down the stairs since they're so slick, so I installed a stair runner to help her get up and down safely. I'll tell you all about the installation process in a week or two (and boy was it a process).

When we first started having her over (before we officially adopted her), we tried to entice her to sit on the couch by putting a blanket up there because her foster mom told us she liked to burrow in them. The blanket tactic worked, but she never seemed to move it much, and she also never sat anywhere but in that same spot.

Rather than having a Longhorns blanket permanently sitting on our couch, I thought it would be good to come up with a solution that was a little less obvious (sorry, John). I got some thin denim fabric and made her a little mat, that way a lot of her shedding ends up in one easy to clean spot. It doesn't really match the couch, but it's much more subtle than light grey + burnt orange.

Another thing I did was to make her a crate cover. I wanted something that blended into the walls since it's not exactly something I want to show off, but I also wanted to make it have some personality. What I ended up with is not what I had originally planned... but I'll save that story (and a full run down on how I made it) for another post. The good news is that she has a cover, it's a good color, and it gets the job done.

I also made her this little bell that we hung on the back door that she can use to alert us if she needs to go outside. We haven't trained her to use it yet, and now that I've made it I'm realizing there's not much of a need to. We go on a few little walks each day, and then one long one at night, so she has plenty of opportunities to go to the bathroom throughout the day. Once it starts getting warmer, we want to try and teach her that the back yard is a place she can go and hang out in if she wants. Right now she seems to think it's just a holding pen while we make our way outside for a walk, rather than an outdoor area she can actually use. 

We also got her a dog bed and put it in under the desk in my office. Whenever we stand up to walk somewhere, she gets up and follows us. She always likes to be in whichever room we're in, so this bed allows her to have a padded place to snooze while I work during the day (like now--she's sitting in her bed snoring. Cutest. thing. ever.). And, in case you think she looks sad in the picture below--it's just because she doesn't like having her picture taken. She's totally camera shy, which I think is interesting... how would she know what's happening? I don't know, but it's a real thing.

It's really nice to wake up to this little dog every morning. She always puts her front paws on our bed and makes sweet little noises. Usually, she'll be holding her stuffed fox in her mouth. And when I say stuffed, what I really mean is un-stuffed. Her favorite thing to do is de-stuff things and then carry the "shell" around.

Morning kisses

She tends to hoard her toys and keep them all together. She also strongly prefers to have a pillow under her chin, which I think is adorable.

 Sometimes, she'll rub up on our couch and make herself all staticky.

"Mom..... what's haaaappening.......?!"

The very first time we left her we were worried she would be lonely/nervous/upset/not know what to do with herself, so we decided to Skype her so we could run back home if she started tearing things apart or howling non-stop. What did she do? She sat in the same spot and slept the whole time.


She has also gotten much better about riding in the car. If you remember, I gave John seat covers for his truck for Christmas, and one of the options was to add a built-in dog leash. This way, we can strap Sweet Olive in when we go for a ride. The leash is probably 2.5" long or so, which allows her to walk to the windows and to put her paws on the center console, but it would keep her from flying forward if we were to brake suddenly. Here she is in her old harness which to me, as I tell everyone (everywhere, all the time), makes her look like one of those dogs that's going to jump out of a helicopter into the ocean and rescue someone. Aside from being afraid of loud noises and people, I think she might be good at that ;)

One thing Sweet Olive loves is to play fetch. She's a great fetcher. She can catch it in the air, or if it's already on the ground she'll sprint over and get it. She's actually quite fast. She's also a genius (I mean come on, I have to be able to brag about her somewhere), and knows "drop it" so we can get it from her and throw it again. The funniest thing is that the moment we pick it up, she runs off and assumes you're going to throw it again, which is a very smart tactic because I never want to let her down. Here she is after a long round of fetching her squeaker ball.

This morning I had to take her to the vet which broke my heart. She had to get 5 shots and I felt soooo bad. This is her "I refuse to look at you for bringing me to this torture chamber" face. She actually handled it quite well, and didn't need any time for recovery when we got home. I expected her to go up to her crate and not come out for a while, but she just lounged around under the coffee table, which is one of her favorite spots.

So there you have it! John's on his way home which means it's almost time for our longest walk of the day. The three of us go all the way around the neighborhood and then come back for dinner. It's my favorite part of the day :)


  1. I love your updates. I think sometimes that we were just holding her until fate could arrange for you to meet. Just perfect.

    1. We are very thankful that fate made it happen. She's the best best best little dog :)

  2. Thanks for the wonderful updates! She is a doll and has come a long way.